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HomeSportFrance's Decathlon aims to bulk up via deals in evolving sports market

France's Decathlon aims to bulk up via deals in evolving sports market

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By Dominique Patton
PARIS (Reuters) - French sports retailer Decathlon is shopping for specialist brands to expand its business, capitalising on a post-pandemic shakeout in the industry that has made many firms attractive targets, CEO Barbara Martin Coppola said.

The privately owned company known for its affordable sports gear bought German climbing retailer Bergfreunde in January for “hundreds of millions” of euros and a new division is eyeing bigger targets in Europe and further afield, Martin Coppola added.

“There are a lot of opportunities in terms of companies that are doing really interesting things but due to the market and the demand might be in a difficult situation,” she told Reuters.

A surge in demand for exercise-related clothing and equipment during the Covid pandemic boosted sales, but many brands have been caught with excess inventory after people returned to more regular working patterns.

Upstart brands such as running shoe specialists On and Hoka are also challenging established players, as consumers seek out specialist products for different sports.

Decathlon is building on its expertise in sports such as running, road cycling and mountaineering and also boosting its marketing spend, including with a first-time sponsorship of the Paris Olympics.

Its new Decathlon Pulse unit will target acquisitions in higher end areas not already covered by the core business.

Martin Coppola, who has been in the role just over two years, cited fitness as an area of interest as well as new business models such as second-hand sales and leasing of equipment, already seeing strong growth at Decathlon.

Decathlon, which generated sales of 15.6 billion euros ($16.9 billion) in 2023 across more than 70 countries and a profit of 931 million euros, has overhauled its strategy, slashing the number of brands it sells from 80 to 12.

The company has 1,750 stores, with France its biggest market and an important presence in China too.

Decathlon Pulse also has 300 million euros to spend on venture capital investments over the next four years. That follows the 400 million euros invested in 21 firms since 2018, including the purchase of Bergfreunde and French cycling gear specialist Alltricks as well as other smaller investments.

“Decathlon Pulse is a continuation of what was happening but with more means and more acceleration,” said Martin Coppola.

($1 = 0.9240 euros)

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Keith Weir)

Disclaimer: This report is auto generated from the Reuters news service. INDIANEXPOSE holds no responsibilty for its content.

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